Twilight fans, avert your eyes. Kate & Sam Are Not Breaking Up is a darkly humorous send-up of Twihard culture and celebrity obsession, with a side of gunplay and a dash of Stephen King's Misery thrown in.
"It's really funny, and it's also really horrific at the same time," says director Kyle Barnette, co-founder of What If? Productions.
The play begins with a TV news broadcaster announcing that Kate and Sam (Michael David Wilson and Giulia Dalbec), starlets of the paranormal romance series Ghost Forest, are both missing after announcing that they had ended their real-life romantic relationship. The lights come up on Kate and Sam waking from unconsciousness, bound and helpless in the apartment of a crazed superfan named Bill (Andre Hinds). It quickly becomes clear that Bill wants tween America's favorite couple to get back together, and he won't let them go until they do.
But the situation really goes to hell when 15-year-old Becky (played by School of the Arts student Eden Teichman), moderator of the fansite ghostforest.net, shows up and starts laying down the law.
"She is the mastermind behind this kidnapping," Barnette says. "I don't want to say too much more, except she's not what she seems."
The Piccolo production of Kate & Sam will be the play's second staging after a December premiere at Chicago's New Colony, the same theater that debuted the What If? smash hit 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche. It's a tonal shift from last year's What If? offering at Piccolo, the relentlessly bleak Hearts Full of Blood.
"We learned that doing an unknown show about marital incest is not a big seller," Barnette says. "People at Piccolo want to see something a little happier, a little quirkier."
Still, Kate & Sam is plenty dark. And it will be a challenge for What If? to pull it off in the tiny Threshold Rep, using minimalist tricks like black light lighting to insert snippets from the Ghost Forest series in the middle of the action.
"We've done some crazy shit in our seasons," Barnette says, "but this is one of the craziest things we've done."